How feminism failed in Afghanistan
The US intervention tried to do too much, too soon
The world watched this week as images of women were painted over on beauty parlours in Kabul. The symbolism was impossible to miss. After twenty years of limited — though steadily increasing — freedoms, the concealment of the women of Kabul, and Afghanistan, had resumed.
After the Taliban announced that it will respect women’s rights “in accordance with Islamic law” on Wednesday, a woman was reportedly killed for not wearing a burqa and another was beaten to death in front of her four children for refusing to cook for them. Women for the Taliban are the first target for enforced isolation, silencing and extreme violence. Women are central to the Taliban’s theocratic vision. They are the first to be subjugated. If they can coerce, terrorise and control women, the rest of the population will follow.
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Afghan women were central to the US policy too — an astonishing US government report from February 2021 shows just how central. The Americans pursued a strategy of “gender mainstreaming” in the country, a suite of policies that aimed to empower Afghan women. Quotas were introduced that guaranteed a set number of women in parliament; rural councils, likewise, were balanced by gender. The US sent “gender advisors” to the country; they attempted to integrate women into the Afghan army; training centres, housing, child care centres, gyms, dining facilities, and bathrooms were all built for women. And Afghan men were enlisted to the gender mainstreaming cause — US programs gave “trainings to 1,105 Afghan men in which they could discuss their own gender roles and examine male attitudes that are harmful to women.” One initiative was called the “National Masculinity Alliance”.
So what went wrong? The report details numerous pitfalls such as; building schools that were left empty because parents wanted their kids to herd sheep, the lack of a Dari and Pashto translation for “gender equality”, a culture of sexual harassment among parliamentarians, and the restricted mobility that hinder women from public participation to name a few. Women remained a priority for the US but not for Afghanistan.
Women’s rights continued to be viewed by many as a foreign notion that was introduced by invaders to sully women’s honour and distract them from their divinely determined duties inside the home. To these people, the concept of women’s rights belongs to the secular sphere that the infidel West was trying to impose upon a deeply conservative and religious country. The Taliban see their role as rectifying the behaviour of their people who were tempted by the devil.
The US tried to switch Afghan women into Western-style feminism — a dream that dissipated because it wasn’t grounded in Afghan or Muslim reality. A focus on gradually revising religious discourse and allowing for a more tolerant understanding of Islam might have yielded more sustainable results — sadly we will now never know.
US programs gave “trainings to 1,105 Afghan men in which they could discuss their own gender roles and examine male attitudes that are harmful to women.” One initiative was called the “National Masculinity Alliance”.
So what went wrong?
Good piece. But we just don’t seem to learn do we. We seem so absolutely sure of a set of values that we, in fact, adopted only recently, that we think everybody else is just queueing up to adopt them.
Or worse – trying to impose on the Afghanis an ideology which the majority of people in the west don’t believe in either!
A similar article in the Spectator yesterday included a clip of Afghan women attending a lecture on Marcel Duchamp’s urinal. ‘Profoundly significant’ they were informed.
Promoting nonsense that many westerners roll their eyes at (as did the audience members). No wonder the west lost.
From what I hear this is just the tip of the iceberg – because the NGOs are not even limited in their insanity to the degree US employees are, and my guess is they are as thick on the ground as locusts.
I have not read on them in Afghanistan as I knew it would be too depressing for me – but imagine the most extreme Lefty/Liberal laden organization with the most crazy and extreme woke ideology – with loads of power and money – out messing with the local’s heads and making them jump through hoops and do tricks for $$ and jobs. Stupid Columbia graduate degrees in gender and politics, Social Work, Psychology and Gender, ‘Post-Colonial White Rage Gender Oppression’, and out to ‘Fix’ the sex issues and backwardness thing in primitive places by giving them the moral bankruptcy and a-morality and degenerate habits of the secular West.
I could be wrong – but this is from Oxfam:
“Putting women’s rights at the heart of all we do. Whether we are responding to an emergency, working on long terms projects with communities, or campaigning for lasting change, we tackle the inequality and deep-rooted discrimination that makes and keeps women poor. We work closely with women’s rights organizations as partners and allies in order to address gender inequalities effectively.”
And they are a very big and somewhat stable group. The great many ones created by special interests could be anything. And all are run by crazy, agenda laden, Lefties.
I would say losing the war in Afghanistan was most likely lost by the HUGE CULTURAL IMPERIALISM AND POST_COLONIAL CULTURAL COLONIALISM of the Post-Modernist, 5th Wave Feminist, Lefty/Liberal Evangelists.
We pumped in a Trillion $, gave jobs, roads, stability, electricity, schools, and yet they did not join the program – this means they did not like what we were selling them, and what we were selling them was all the defects in Liberalism – to the most traditional Islamic nation on earth.
Biden wrecked it in the ending, our Liberals made it unwinnable from the start.
Self-important academics wanted to import third wave feminism (which a lot of people in the West already cannot stand) to Afghanistan and tried to lecture Pashtun tribesmen about “toxic masculinity.” At the same time things like the sexual abuse of children, rapes by warlord forces, and war widows being forced to perform sexual favors just to get the compensation they were promised to feed their families was outright ignored. These things happened all the time. Where was the media outrage? Say what you will about the Taliban and their views towards women, but they would at least go after and execute rapists back in the day. So now you have a bunch of stupid, self righteous, warmongering, nation building academics wondering where it all went wrong. They can go to hell.
Feminism seems to be incompatible with Islam full stop. In this country Muslim women and girls demand the right to wear the hijab, rather than demanding the right not to have to cover themselves. Even primary schools have adopted the hijab as uniform for prepubescent girls and nobody here does much about that particular violation of children’s rights. Islam appears to be a patriarchal religion and Sharia emphasises the value of a woman is less than that of a man. Is there any wonder that feminism hasn’t taken root in Afghanistan over the last twenty years?
What an excellent piece! Let’s hope that the USA in particular and the West in general can learn from their mistakes (only a few) and actively seek and find other countries to invade in the name of gender equity and nation building.
Nigeria might be one, as girls in some regions seem to be suppressed when they are not kidnapped. A robust contingent from Moral Superpower Sweden would get the job done! Perhaps Greta will go too and hector the locals about the dangers of global warming, how their parents have failed them…. Iran is another candidate, and the West has more experience in all things Iranian. Perhaps Norway can send willing women to impose (is that the right word?) progressive Western values on a willing (unwilling?) local populace. Doesn’t matter, as only good intentions count, and moral relativism isn’t a good thing….until it is. Think FMG.
Let’s hope that NeoCons or the NeoWoke are hard at work in Washington DC, looking for other, perhaps slightly less problematic countries to invade, to build new nations, and to release unicorns and rainbows while the world holds hands!
Excellent analysis. Such a pleasure to read an informed piece, in contrast to the ‘who’s to blame for letting the Afghan people down?’ we are getting from the MSM.
This is going on in Africa too and probably elsewhere.
What I’ve seen there:
China goes in and builds airports, mines , power stations and roads.
The West exports NGOs, windfarms and gender politics.
Guess which one the locals prefer, despite the Chinese debt trap?
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